FDA panel overwhelmingly rejects approval of Pfizer vaccine booster shots for people 16 and older

Pfizer vaccine
Pfizer vaccine JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has voted against approving booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those 16 and older, just days before a Biden administration plan to administer additional doses to all Americans was set to begin.

An independent panel advising the FDA met on Friday to consider whether to endorse a third dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for Americans 16 years and older. The committee voted 16 to 2 against doing so, The New York Times reports. The panel did, however, recommend booster doses for those 65 and older and at high risk for severe COVID-19, according to CNN.

Last month, the Biden administration announced a plan to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans starting on Sept. 20, pending FDA and CDC approval. But it was later reported that the administration might have to scale this plan back, as during a meeting with the White House, top health officials "warned that more time may be needed before enough data is in to recommend boosters for all adults," CNN wrote.

During the Friday meeting of the FDA advisory panel, committee member Dr. Michael G. Kurilla said that "it's unclear that everyone needs to be boosted, other than a subset of the population that clearly would be at high risk for serious disease," per the Times.

The Biden administration previously faced criticism for announcing its planned timeline to administer booster shots before they had been approved for all Americans.

"What I do think was backwards and not helpful was that the White House made an announcement with a certain date before really all the data had come in," former FDA Chief Scientist Jesse Goodman told CNN, "before [the] FDA had a chance to review it, and before there was this public discussion that we're now going to have."

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